Number 12

On 59th St. around mile 25.5 [Photo: Anwar Ragep]

Last Sunday I ran my 12th marathon. It was a big deal for me, personally, for a number of reasons. It was my first post-injury race. I had family come into town and run it with me. It was NYC’s first big event like this in the post-covid era. I hadn’t run a marathon in 5 years. For the past 14 weeks I have thought about this race every single day. When I was laying in bed Saturday night before the race, I felt so excited to go run. I really put in the time and effort to train for this thing. Even though I still have some lingering congestion from the super-cold that appears to be going around the city right now, I knew that I was recovered enough that it would not be a factor.

Rounding the corner from West CP Drive onto 59th St. [Photo: Anwar Ragep]

This was 50th iteration of the NYC Marathon. But because of covid related travel restrictions for foreign citizens entering the country, international participants were largely absent this year. In an effort to pad the gap, NYRR offered automatic entry to members of all of the local clubs. As a result, my brother-in-law was able to score a bib. My sister actually also got entry, but ended up having to defer because of a stress fracture that she suffered during training. She made the trip out to NYC anyway and joined the cheering crew, along with Britt and our friend Anwar, who provided most of these great photos!

Post race with Britt, and Britt with the sign she made [Photos: Anwar Ragep]

Race day started out awesome. My brother-in-law Jessie and I arrived in the start village nice and early. It was chilly, but not miserably so, especially once the sun came up. I was super fired up by the time the gun went off. My first few miles were way too fast. But I was able to rein it in by the time I hit mile 10 or so. Ultimately energy was not an issue, but pain sure was. starting around mile 16 I started to get a familiar burning/stabbing sensation where my IT band wraps around the outside of my right knee. It got bad enough that I needed to stop and stretch it out a handful of times. It slowed me down a lot, but honestly I’m glad that I didn’t try to just push through it.

[photo: Anwar Ragep]

My finish time goal was to do 3:45 or better. The last time I did this race was six years ago and I did a 3:43, so it seemed like a reasonable goal. By the time I made it to Central Park I looked at my watch, saw that I was in the low 3:20s and realized that if I really kicked I might be able to get close to 3:35ish. Starting around Mile 25 I gave it all I had, and really kicked hard when I saw the sign saying I was only 800 meters from the finish. I ended up finishing just under 3:36, which I am very pleased about. Not only was it my PR for the course, but it was only about 10 mins off my best marathon time, ever!

With Jessie enjoying some victory beers after the race. [Photo: Brittany Maschal private collection]

One cool thing that the New York Times does after every New York Marathon, is devote an entire section to the marathon, the Monday after the race. It includes the name of each finisher with their finish time and overall place. They also run a handful of photos from the race, including the one below of the runners in the start queue on the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island. Upon closer inspection, I spotted my brother-in-law (highlighted below right). So cool!

I’m so grateful for all of the people who have supported me during my surgery recovery and training process, especially Britt. Sunday was a very special day for me and I will remember it my whole life.

Running Update – Loud Shoes Edition

First run in Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

New Gear:

About 15 years ago, a friend turned me onto Mizuno running shoes. They are light, relatively inexpensive, and had the support that I needed for my gait an pronation. They are great shoes. I generally love me some Japanese design. Function-wise, Mizuno was no exception. They have been my faithful go-to running shoe ever since then. For some reason, however, they just keep making them uglier and uglier. From a visual design perspective, the only distinction between my most recent pair of Mizunos and a pair of granny-style mall walkers is the fact that the colorway is not white on white. I know that running is not a fashion show, but I’m running the NY Marathon in a few weeks and I want to wear some good looking kicks for the race. I’m not exactly a young buck anymore, But hey man, I’m certainly not a senior citizen yet either. Until then I’m not trying to give off any grandpa vibes with my footwear. After imagining the horror of opening up the NY Times on Nov. 8th and seeing a photo of myself running down 5th Avenue sporting old-guy kicks, I went on a quest for a non-geriatric looking pair of running shoes to race in.

I had heard good things about the brand ON. I think that they are a pretty good looking shoe and decided to try a pair. They had a nice fit for my foot and seemed okay for running…. except for the fact that the sole design is super prone to rock collecting. Given that I have been running on trails or gravel roads 3-4 times per week, they just weren’t practical. When I wore the ONs, I was forced to stop every half mile or so to remove (some quite sizable) stones lodged in the out sole. They are probably fine for city running, but I’m not going to gamble on wearing them for a marathon without having worn them on at least a few long training runs.

Prevailing public opinion (especially of non-runners) seems to be that Nike is the obvious choice in running shoes. I have had a love/hate relationship with Nike runners since my first pair of Air Pegasus that I wore in high school track. There has always been something not quite right about the way they work on my feet. The past couple of years I have picked up a few pairs of Vapormax, but mostly just for looks. I have never actually run in them. They are not comfortable at all on my feet, even just walking around the city. Summer 2020 I picked up a pair of deeply discounted Nike trail runners that I actually think are great. So when I saw the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, I thought I would give them a shot. The visual design is about as non-octogenarian as it gets. In fact, when I first took them out of the box, I was worried that they might be a little much. After my first run in them, I was hooked. They are insanely comfortable and light. I only wore them for three shortish runs before breaking them out on last week’s 20-miler. Didn’t even get a blister. They are honestly the most comfortable shoe that I have ever worn and they seem to give me a literal bounce in my step. All of that said, there are definitely some drawbacks. First: they are insanely expensive as far as running shoes go (roughly double the price of the Mizunos I was using). Another downside is that they appear to be wearing out much faster than the average running shoe. The front section of the out sole is super soft, almost tacky to the touch. This is awesome for gripping the road, but I’m already seeing significant wear after putting only 50ish miles on them. Based on these facts, I’m not sure that I will be able to justify these as a daily runner. I may have to reserve them for training/racing, only. For now, I will enjoy these kicks to the maximum (as well the fresh still-in-the-box pair that I will race in next month), even if it means my theoretical photo in the Times ends up looking like that middle aged guy who is desperately clinging to youth by wearing loud sneakers! 😉

October 2021 Playlist

Switching it up a bit this month. It is marathon season again. This is an especially big deal for all of the runners who had qualified and trained for a race last year, only to have it delayed and/or cancelled. I have a sister running Boston this year, and I will be running NY with my other sister and her husband. Being neck deep in training has caused me to spend a lot of my playlist making energy on running mixes. Instead of the usual variety of Jake.News playlist, I’m sharing a running playlist this month. Good luck to everyone racing this autumn!

 

Garmin 645 Music


I have had a few different GPS running watches. One was powered by Tomtom. The rest were all Garmin. This is my favorite, to date. I picked it up last year on Prime day when Amazon had it for like 50% off. The beauty of the Garmin 645 Music, is that it pairs with bluetooth headphones and I can listen to my Spotify playlists without having to bring a phone with me. This is also the first Garmin that I have owned with a built in heart monitor. Heart rate has been a fun new metric to track. The watch has all of the regular smart watch functions as well for those who want to get alerts on their watch, count steps, etc..

As far as the GPS system is concerned, it works the best of any that I’ve owned. When I have GLONASS enabled (this allows it to talk to the Russian satellites as well the GPS satellites), I rarely have to wait more than a couple of seconds for the GPS to link up when I start an activity. I use it predominantly for running. But when I was recovering from surgery I used it on the bike quite a bit. It has also been fun to wear on some hikes that we have done here in the Catskills. The only drawback is that the battery life is not great compared to other models I’ve used. But I don’t mind charging every couple of days, so whatev. It is an awesome device that I have really enjoyed using.

Q4 2019 Running Update

Me waking up from anesthesia vs. me waking up from anesthesia.

For the more punctilious readers of Jake.news, it is probably apparent from the photo above that I was not able to achieve my 2019 goal of running 1000 miles. No, indeed I fell short by exactly 181.3 miles. For those who perused this update, the injury that I mentioned ended up being a core muscle injury coupled with bi-lateral inguinal hernias. So, yeah, it took more than an little PT to fix that problem. I opted for a surgical repair, which occurred mid-December (a/k/a six days ago). I’m very glad to be on the other side of that event, and on the way to recovery. I still won’t be able to run for a while. But by the time the weather warms up, if all else goes according to plan, I should be able to start logging some easy miles again. I have guaranteed entry to the upcoming NY Marathon in November. I’m told that it should be a possibility. So that’s what I’ll be working toward … from scratch. Happy New Year!

Q3 2019 Running Update

This update is not a rosy as the first two from March and July respectively. The last couple weeks of July, I started experiencing a lot of pain after runs. Eventually the pain was too much to run at all. A visit to the ortho doc confirmed that I was injured. I’m still working with a PT on recovery. It has been over eight weeks without any running, and I’m definitely going a bit nuts. In the meantime, cycling does not cause any pain or aggravate the injury. So I’m trying to supplement my cardio with some miles on the bike to stay in shape. Unfortunately, I find that I have to do about 4x as many miles to burn the same amount of calories as running. It is super time consuming. Cycling is definitely a lot more fun though. So I’m taking the good with the bad.

I have logged 818 running miles on the year. So, to the extent that I can start running again by November 1, it is possible that I can still hit my 1000 mile goal for the year. Fingers crossed.

Q2 2019 Running Update

Left: waiving at Britt after a rare evening race. Right: looking behind me before an early morning race.

This post is just an accountability update from my report at the end of March, where I announced to the innanetz my running goal to hit 1000 miles this year. Unfortunately, I got sick of running midway through April and gave up on that goal. I’m totally kidding about the ‘giving up’ stuff. To date, I have not fallen short of my 25m/week goal, nor have I had a month wherein I did not exceed the 100m/month goal. I have all of these mini goals to thank for keeping me on track for the 1000 mile goal.

For this quarter, I decided to do some races. I have kept them all short and sweet. The shortest has been 5k, and the longest, 10k. Running these distances in a competitive setting a couple weekends per month has proven to be incredibly fun. Since I don’t really have expectations, or (for the most part) anyone waiting at the finish line, the pressure to do well has been incredibly low. I have always loved the energy of road racing. To be honest, the NY and Chicago marathons are tied for the time I experiences the most euphoric ‘runner’s high.’ The beauty of running these shorties (esp the Central Park ones), is that I’m generally done, showered and, home ready for the rest of the day by 10 AM. And I mean, since I’m doing a few races, may as well do the 9+1 next year’s NY Marathon, right? I thought so, too. Two races to go.

What I have learned about myself and running in the past 90 days:

  • Cold weather running, while harder to get motivated about and requires more gear, is much easier on the bod. Running in the heat hurts a lot more and takes longer to recover from. In the past, I had always quit running once it started to get cold, and would pick up again once it got warm. This year is the first time that I have ever experienced the sharp contrast between the two seasons.
  • Consistency is key. I have done a million different training programs for a million different races. Not until I had this 25/m per week goal, has running ever truly been a part of my routine and felt easy.
  • Ambiance is nice. One of the things that turned me onto running in the first place, is enjoying all of the scenery and things happening around me. I found it much less boring than the gym. For a long time I was not able to run with music, because I would sweat-to- death every device (early MP3 players, iPod nanos, you name it) that I brought running with me. I also hated the headphone cable being constantly glued to me with my own sweat. Since the advent of waterproof bluetooth headphones, life has been different.  While I now run with music a lot (esp if I have a new playlist or need some extra motivation), I still enjoy switching it up and going no-jams a few times per week.
  • Stretching, rolling and strength training is necessary for old guys. I never did this conditioning/flexibility crap when I was younger. I eventually had knee problems in my 30s when my IT bands started to calcify. A few months of recovery PT taught me some habits that I still employ. Even though I don’t stretch after every run, I do at least every other time. I also foam roll my ITs, glutes and lower back once per week. I mix in strength training whenever it is too rainy outside to run.
  • Sleep is important. It doesn’t seem like is was as much of a factor when I was younger, but I definitely notice a huge difference these days when I don’t get a solid sleep before a run.

If I was perfectly on track with my goal right now, I would be at 500 miles for the year. As it stands, I broke the 700 mile mark last weekend. I’m feeling okay about the whole situation and enjoying running as much as I ever have. Crossing my fingers and toes that I’m not somehow jinxing myself by publishing any of this nonsense. Knock on wood that I can stay healthy and injury free for the rest of the year (and the rest of my life, haha). Hey, shoot for the moon, land in the starts, right?

Left: the most brutal foam roller I have ever used. Right: pre-run selfie in summer gear, 17 lbs lighter than Jan 1.

Q1 2019 Running Update

Excerpted selfies from some garbage social media app circa Jan 2019

Guys, it seems like I might have become serious about running again. I have always been such a fair weather runner that there is at least one occasion in the last 18 months where I skipped a destination marathon (having already arrived at the destination) because of crappy weather. Around October of last year, I told myself that I was going to go ahead and try to run through the winter this time. This was not because I had delusions of grandeur that my middle aged self was about to unleash the record breaking runner that cold weather had always been stifling. It was more a result of the fact that I had finally joined a gym that was very close to my office and also very close to Central Park.

Prior to joining the gym (for my first time ever) my biggest obstacle to winter running was the fact that I was relegated to running either before or after work. This is no problem in the summer months. It gets light at 5:30 AM and dark at 9:30. Run at 5:30 AM and you can get those cooler 70 degree temps, then still have a few mins after the shower to stop sweating before putting on office attire. After work in the summer, also awesome. No sun equals no problem when the temps are headed back into the comfort zone from the oppressively hot zone.  But in the winter…. forget about it. I’m not going to wake up extra early and get out of bed when it is pitch black and 15 degrees outside to run in the howling wind. Kudos to those who can do that. I know plenty of people who think that I’m a weakling with no self control for admitting as much. To those people I say, “you are probably right, and I wish I was more like you.”

Okay, so back to the subject. Running through winter was a daunting idea that I was really wary of. I had basically accepted the fact that after autumn races, I would stop running, put on excess body mass all winter and sort it out in the spring. The latter part of the aforementioned task becomes increasingly difficult as my age number ticks northward. So there I was last fall, already uncomfortable with the amount of body blah I was dealing with. For the record, last year was the first time in a while that I had not been training for a fall race. I don’t doubt that the lack of summer/fall training miles fueled my desire to get fit over the winter months.

As 2019 was approaching, I thought long and hard about what my fitness goals would be. I mean, dude, I’m getting slower not faster. I wasn’t about to set a goal to get a PR marathon (or any distance) or some other plausibly unrealistic goal. So instead, I decided that I was going to log 1000 miles in 2019. The last time I did this was exactly 10 years ago in 2009. The decade of separation was another reason that I felt like it was an appropriate time to bring back the 1 year/1k goal. I wanted to focus on logging miles, not being fast, or training for races, or any of that other stuff.

Doing basic math, a person only has to run 3ish miles per day to log 1k miles in a year. As a person whose schedule rarely allows me run every day of the week, thinking about it in those terms sounded daunting. Once I broke it down to weekly increments, much less so. 21 miles in seven days? No problem. Realistically, in the winter I’m not going to run less than 5 miles if I’m going to go through the trouble of putting on all of the gear. I mean, Shakespeare and his men didn’t put on tights for a 20 minute dip out-and-back. Another helpful fact is that one loop around central park is about 6.25 miles counting the entry and exit from 59th Street.

When thinking about a weekly goal, I also wanted to account for the inevitable fact that I will most likely have a sick day or two, as well as the possibility of injury. Further, there is bound to be some occasions when I’m traveling, etc., when running will just not be practical (like I said, not hardcore). In order to account for those days, I pegged my weekly level at 25 miles per week. Breaking that down, if I could get 4 laps in CP during the work week…. done. And if I can’t, I have the weekend make up the difference.

Also selfies of me: 11 lbs lighter and a minute per mile faster than in the photos above. Circa March 2019

I’m happy to report that at the end of the first quarter, I’m ahead of my mileage goal, and I have experienced some peripheral benefits along the way. First: my pace per mile has dropped roughly one minute since last Nov. This is without even doing any speed work at all, or really even pushing myself on runs. I’m still nowhere close to where I was in 2009. But it feels like I’m not completely sucking at running! Second: I have managed to drop bit of that body blah. Knocking on wood that I can keep the drive alive and have an equally positive Q2 update to post on July 1.

Here is where my next level nerditude comes out. Embedded below is my mile tracker (updated daily)–

Marathon Sunday 2018

In my personal and very biased opinion, the only thing better than running the NYC Marathon, is watching the NYC Marathon. Since I didn’t get in this year, and would have been too out of shape to run anyway, I opted for the latter. The weather was perfect. I had some cameras with me, as did my homey A-Raj (he was rocking a large format film rig). B came out with the dog. We cheered on friends and strangers, then had a really nice brunch afterward. Here are some snaps.

Some Art, Some Running

Even though it is March and the days are getting longer, it still 100% feels like winter out there. Despite the temps, B and I forced ourselves to be out and about last week. Thursday night we hit the Retna opening at Chase Contemporary. I have been a fan of his for a while. Here is a sample of his Bowery wall mural, as I saw it in March 2012. Anyway, we saw some equally awesome stuff at the gallery opening on Thurs.

That being said, I kind of feel bad for anyone who opened an exhibition last week in NYC, because the town was all abuzz with the fact that Banksy was back in North America and had put some work in NYC. So much hype that even the local news covered it, hahahaha. Lordy, it was like listening to a couple of elderly ladies talking about “the grime raps” or something. Speaking of the Bowery Mural, B*nksy has turned it into his latest propaganda piece.

I haven’t made it over to see that one yet. But we did wander into Chelsea to look at the rat. Here are a couple of snaps, along with a couple of my faves from the Retna opening.

Aaaaand finally, B and I both ran the NYC half on Sunday. It was a new course, starting in Prospect Park, ending in Central Park. The course went over the Manhattan Bridge, which was awesome for me since I mix that bridge into most of my longer runs anyway. The difference being that I usually have it to myself instead of sharing it with 20k other runners. Back to the weather…. this was probably the coldest race I have ever run. It was fine, once I finally got going and the sun came up. But man, waiting for it to start was brutal! New course is amazing. B got a PR. Overall, a really decent day. Here is a crappy pic from my celly of my fellow runners freezing their booties off in Prospect Park.